Resilient London: confronting climate change
This sustainable vision and strategy is part of the Low Line scheme to create a green corridor along the Victorian railway viaduct meandering through Bankside, London Bridge and Bermondsey. The Low Line Commons, commissioned by Low Line partners, will connect people with nature and increase environmental resilience along its length by promoting innovative greening and sustainability projects that mitigate climate change. It celebrates the diversity and heritage of each neighbourhood with a series of hubs to encourage communities to unify and share a ‘sense of place’.
The strategy will tie streets and spaces around the viaduct that currently are divided and disconnected, while celebrating the diversity and unique characteristic of each area.
A toolkit solution of 12 components is designed to be used to provide the best response to each unique neighbourhood. The elements all centre around establishing biodiversity and ecological connectivity, building climate resilience and connecting people with each other and nature. Responding to scale is also important so spaces can be knitted together to function as a coherent place. The toolkit includes pocket parks, wildlife micro habitats, SuDS, planters and street trees, overhead habitats, productive private green spaces, sensory play areas, pedestrian priority, lighting, canopies, seating and pop-up uses.
Whether large or small, by great visionary designers or through local acts of love and care, together they can make up a 3.5 km natural, cultural resource as large as the 25 ha Southwark Park. The value of which is the Commons approach, where residents and businesses coexist because they are supporting each other.
In addressing the climate challenge, Low Line Commons will provide an inspiration for other parts of London. With hotter peak summer temperatures, rainfall and storm events, the vision is designed to provide refuges away from the heat with ‘Blue Green Streets’ enabling safer, cooler walking routes and lower exposure to air pollution. Extensive urban greening will cool the air naturally; urban forests will slow the rainfall before capture
in raingardens in both vertical and ground level design areas. A native planting palette will contain lower maintenance species that are drought, shade and pollution tolerant.
The project is a toolkit for all with an interest along this rail corridor. Shared action by the Low Line Partners – Better Bankside, Team London Bridge, Blue Bermondsey, Southwark Council and The Arch Company – with Friends of the Low Line, residents, businesses, landowners and developers, can deliver this coherent ‘green seam.’ The ambition is for 50,000 sqm biodiverse roofs, 500 new trees, 30 SuDS raingardens, 10,000 plants, 100 new wildlife habitats, 1,000 sqm wildflower meadows, 500 sqm ‘grey to green’ de-paving projects, 30 pocket spaces supporting social interaction and 3.5 km carriageway transformed to support green business and active travel.